Working with other senior NCOs might seem difficult at first especially with clashing belief systems and individual strategies and approaches to leadership. However the secret to successfully working with and for other NCOs while encouraging and developing subordinates is as simple as focusing on GAINS. GAINS is a mnemonic that focuses NCO attention on G-iving, A-ccepting, I-nnovating, N-urturing, and S-ecuring to ensure that, I, as an individual NCO can work with and for other senior NCOs with the end objective of contributing to the progress of our other subordinates.
G-iving does not only mean material generosity, it could mean many things that have to do with individual values. Misconceptions in the military about discipline are what make giving quite difficult. As an NCO I should be able to focus on this particular key word to guarantee that I am always open to the tutelage of other senior NCOs; I have to give attention to what is being taught and advised.
This way, I am able to improve myself. On the outset, I should not keep what I known to myself as well and aim at giving my own opinion, my own reaction, and my own views and perspectives of things to other senior NCOs so that an exchange of ideas exists. This allows communication channels to remain open and development to occur not only among NCOs but also among subordinates who depend on NCOs for their own development.
On the outset, giving could also mean giving-in, once in a while, because it is not all the time that individuals are right about everything, so to keep harmony and coordination among the ranks, it is sometimes necessary to step down and keep pride on a regulated level. A-ccepting means recognizing the imperfections of other NCOs and not dwelling on these flaws as a means of determining action. It is natural to see mistakes, but when acceptance is present these mistakes become bases for improvement.
Improvement, however, can never occur if acceptance is absent; therefore, I should learn to accept what I am weak at first, accept the weaknesses of other NCOs and consider the flaws of all my subordinates before I am able to work on improving or addressing these imperfections and turning them into strengths and assets. I-nnovating is an important part of leadership. A good leader is able to come up with new, more innovative means of motivating other people.
In the same manner, innovative approaches toward maintaining respect and courtesy between NCOs will serve as a demonstration of trust when viewed from the perspective of subordinates. With innovation comes creativity, so motivational strategies become more effective with leaders who are able to conceive more creative means of instructional or academic transfer or even values formation. N-urturing others does not mean feeding them with nutritious food; this particular aspect of good leadership means being able to complement the strengths of others and seeing room for improvement in their weaknesses.
Simply put, nurturing means giving everyone what they need in terms of empowerment and individual development. NCOs should be able to nurture each other in terms of professional, academic, theoretical, or friendly exchanges – these serve as a means of assessing and evaluating each other in the interest of being able to serve and lead subordinates more effectively. Surprisingly, it is this aspect of NCO leadership that fosters respect as well as democratic command as opposed to dictatorial demand.
S-ecuring is perhaps the most important aspect of NCO leadership and this requires loyalty and sincere commitment to fellow NCOs as well as to the general welfare of all subordinates. NCOs should act according to the best interests of co-NCOs as well as of subordinates. This include making decisions based on what is good for everyone and not based on what is personally perceived to be individually beneficial. It is this aspect of NCO leadership that allows the development of communities that are holistically developed and motivated by a common purpose and goal.
The GAINS philosophy might sound quite absurd or radical if put in the context of the well-trained, theoretically, and technologically advanced men and women of the US Army NCO Corps. However, successful implementation of these philosophical elements might illicit a significant change in the corps in that it will emerge as a model of sensitive and responsive leadership motivated by the precepts and values of the United States Constitution.